Friday, June 15, 2007

The Robots of Dawn

The Robots of Dawn

Isaac Asimov

  —   $7.99   —   Book

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Fiction, Science Fiction

After The Naked Sun, Asimov set out to write another robot novel. Inspiration failed to strike and he set it aside. This is not that book; instead, he started from scratch. (Alas, the promised update in the next book's foreword goes unread as we have a different edition.) It is probably just as well since he stated that when he went back to the original start, he found he did not recognize it.

Robots of Dawn is set on Aurora, the premeire planet of the Spacer worlds, the first settled from Earth and the first among the elite. This is where Daneel was built, and this is where the only other humanoid robot has been shut down, in such a way that only one person could have done it. That one person is among the few Spacer friends of Earth, and if Lije Baley fails to solve this case, Earth might be permanently blocked from ever settling space.

Asimov shows a fine knowledge of the problems of publicity in this novel, as a dramatisation of the events of The Naked Sun is making Baley's life rather difficult, especially in regards to the lovely lady who figured largely in that case. (Baley's wife is unamused.) He also references other works of his, especially in regards to his roboticist Susan Calvin, who figures largely in the stories of I, Robot.

And if you ever refer to the movie version I will kill you.

Baley is operating under impossible expectations, a drastically shortened timeline, and the hostility of nearly every Spacer on Aurora. Of course he's going to win, but it's the getting there that is interesting.

As this book is written much later than the preceding novels, you can see Asimov gradually deciding that all of his stories are interrelated, and how he is starting to draw the threads together to make a unified whole. Some people complain when an author does this, but I think that Asimov does an okay job, if occasionally too cute.

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